Tag Archives: oregon state police fish and wildlife division

‘They Just Want To See Stuff Die’: 10 In SW WA Under Suspicion Of Widespread Poaching

Fury.

That’s all I’m feeling now.

Overnight, news broke that 10 Southwest Washington residents are being investigated for illegally killing a repulsive number of deer, elk, bears and other wildlife over the last 20 months.

“The death toll continues to increase,” says WDFW Deputy Chief Mike Cenci this morning. “We figure around 100 animals taken during closed season, in excess of limits or without proper tags, but the vast majority are closed season.”

TV news coverage shows head upon head upon head of bucks — 26 found during search warrants served by one-third of Washington’s fish and wildlife officers in March, according to Portland station KPTV.

BUCK HEADS AND A RIFLE SEIZED DURING SEARCH WARRANTS SERVED IN COWLITZ COUNTY IN MARCH. (WDFW VIA KPTV)

Also unearthed, multiple videos of hounds baying bears, a style of hunting that was outlawed 20 years ago. The individuals are believed to have killed close to 50 bruins; in one video, a man can be heard to say that a particular flat had yielded four.

 

(WDFW)

(WDFW)

(WDFW)

Another image shows a bobcat that appears to have been chewed up by dogs.

(WDFW)

The animals are believed to have been killed in both Washington and Oregon going back to at least August 2015.

“If not for the efforts of Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division troopers, who knows how long they’d have continued taking deer,” credits Cenci.

During this past winter’s harsh conditions, OSP wildlife officers set up trail cams to catch those responsible for leaving a trail of headless deer in a prime mule deer controlled tag unit, stealing bucks from legitimate hunters.

(WDFW)

It is unclear if the two men OSP asked for help identifying in mid-April about White River Wildlife Area wildlife violations in early February were tied to the case or not.

“It just kept growing,” OSP Lieutenant Ryan Howell told KPTV about the case. “The offenses, not only did they occur in The Dalles, they were all over the state of Oregon and Washington. This was something that was going on a long time, and something that would continue if we didn’t loop in Washington.”

(WDFW)

It left game wardens seething.

“These individuals involved with this case are what I would term the worst of the worst,” WDFW Region 5 Capt. Jeff Wickersham told KPTV. He said they suspects were “going out there and killing to kill.”

Similarly Cenci, who called the suspects “wholesale natural resource murderers” on camera, can’t answer the question why someone would do this.

“Because they’re just killers. They just want to see stuff die. It’s a sick and twisted mentality; you and I will not get it,” he told Northwest Sportsman. “It’s so shocking. Most human beings wouldn’t do this.”

At first glance, the alleged crimes would appear to qualify as spree killing of wildlife, which allows for straight-away first-degree poaching charges to be filed, although some of the suspects may also be repeat offenders and be subject to that anyway.

The case comes as Washington lawmakers considers WDFW’s budget for the next two years.

“We’re really short on staff,” Cenci says. “Our officers are completely frustrated — they were patrolling areas these guys were wholesale poaching. We need to do more to put more officers in the field.”

While the Eyes in the Woods program is successful and hunters and citizens can be rewarded for turning in poaching tips, more needs to be done to combat despicable acts like this.

“As the Legislature considers our budget, I have to hope they’re aware of our relevance to the quality of life in Washington state,” says Cenci.

Upon learning of the case this morning, a friend of mine was mulling an aspect of sharia law, cutting off the hands of the offenders.

We don’t do that in the United States, but so help me, this is so egregious that I hope when county prosecutors on both sides of the Columbia get these charges, they act on them, cut no deals — zero, none, prosecution to the fullest extent of the law — and absolutely nail the perpetrators for these heinous actions.

Killing for the sake of killing cannot be tolerated.

More Details Emerge On Northeast Oregon Elk Killing

The wife of and an attorney for a Northeast Oregon rancher accused of killing as many as 25 elk this past winter are fighting back.

A week ago it was reported that Larry Harshfield, 69, had been arrested and lodged in jail April 8 on 12 counts of unlawful closed-season take and 12 counts of wastage for a dozen elk found slaughtered on his property north of Wallowa in February, with charges for 13 more rotting away on neighboring ground forwarded to county prosecutors.

AN OREGON STATE POLICE FISH AND WILDLIFE TROOPER INVESTIGATES AN ELK CARCASS. (OSP)

The news led to outrage on social media, but also claims that the full story wasn’t being told.

The Wallowa County Chieftain stated that it was unable to get ranchers to talk to them, but an article out yesterday afternoon sheds some more light on the situation.

Pam Harshfield told The Oregonian that the elk herd in the area has grown tenfold in two decades, making it harder and harder for the family to keep the animals out of the haystacks they put up for cattle they raise.

This past winter, one of the harshest in more than 20 years, compounded things. If you recall from our story about conditions not too far north of here, elk cleaned out an entire shed full of 30-plus-year-old hay on Washington’s Grande Ronde, while in Idaho elk and pronghorn were driven towards homes where they browsed on a deadly landscaping shrub.

“We have to care for our animals all day long in subzero temps and then care for 200 of the State of Oregon’s elk herd all night long,” Pam Harshfield said in an email, reported the paper’s Andrew Theen.

He included a statement from her husband’s attorney, Lissa Casey of Eugene, who castigated the Oregon State Police for putting out a press release on the April 8 arrest of her client, first to local news outlets, then yesterday more broadly.

“Instead of letting this case proceed as other criminal cases do, law enforcement arrested a hard-working rancher to provide information for their press releases,” Casey emailed, Theen reported. “He and his family can’t be silent anymore in the face of the public information campaign the government is waging against him.”

After word broke April 13, it initially caught the attention of Glenn Palmer, sheriff of Grant County, Oregon. Writing on his personal Facebook page at Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, he spoke to the cost and damage caused by elk coming to feed on rancher haystacks.

He said that while he “can see and understand frustration … I don’t agree with it but ODFW needs to be in a position to help and mitigate these issues.

That led to a response a couple hours later from the wildlife agency that in fact it had been helping mitigate the issues on the Harshfield Ranch.

Late last week spokesman Michelle Dennehy confirmed to Northwest Sportsman the following statement came from ODFW:

Elk can cause significant damage (especially after a rough winter like this year’s). ODFW works with landowners to in a variety of ways to try to limit this damage. In this case, ODFW has been working with the involved individuals for several years to try to address elk damage on their property. In past, we have helped cost-share alfalfa seed, fertilizer and noxious weed spraying on the property.

This year we issued them a hazing permit and shotgun shells for hazing. We issued elk damage tags to anyone they authorized and who came to us for the tags. We offered to set up an emergency hunt, which the landowners declined because they wanted more control than that program allowed over who could hunt. (These landowners also do not generally allow public hunting which can help address damage). ODFW offered them a kill permit, which they also declined because it requires the permittee to skin, dress, and transport the carcasses to a meat processor for charity which they did not want to do.

ODFW gave the landowners plastic netting to wrap their hay sheds. We were also discussing a plan to supply woven wire fencing to protect their hay sheds. That didn’t happen this winter but we were in discussions to provide in spring.

The Oregonian‘s Theen reports the Harshfields are “hesitant” to allow hunters onto their 450 acres because they would “feel responsible” if bullets were winged at elk in the direction of neighbors’ homes.

Aerial imagery shows structures to the north, west and south of the ranch, with rising open rangeland to the east.

They also question field dressing game without help during such harsh conditions, and claim the venison wasn’t wasted, as it provided carrion to eagles and whatnot.

As it stands, during one of the roughest winters in recent memory, a herd of Oregon’s elk received the toughest of treatments imaginable.

Larry Harshfield will be arraigned next month on the 24 misdemeanor charges, which if convicted could bring fines of as much as $6,250 per count, plus loss of hunting privileges for three years and seizure of any weapon used to kill said elk, according to OSP.

OSP Looking For Details On 2 In Closed Wildlife Area

UPDATE 12:25 P.M., APRIL 12, 2017: IN A TWEET, OSP REPORTS IDENTIFYING THE SUBJECTS

During the depths of one of the most severe winters in recent decades, two men apparently decided they just didn’t need to abide by big game range closures.

Unfortunately for them, a trail cam snapped their photos as well as potential evidence on their backs, and now Oregon wildlife troopers want to know who they are.

A COMPOSITE CLOSE-UP OF THE TWO MEN OSP WISHES TO TALK TO ABOUT ALLEGED WILDLIFE VIOLATIONS ON THE WHITE RIVER WILDLIFE AREA ON FEB. 4, 2017. (OSP)

Yesterday, the state police put out photos of the duo, who appear to be in their 20s and were dudded up in camo and carrying backpacks with antlers poking out the tops.

OSP says the two are thought to have been involved in violating wildlife laws on North-central Oregon’s White River Wildlife Area in late February.

(OSP)

It wasn’t immediately clear what OSP meant by wildlife violations, but about half of the 30,000-acre wildlife area, which sits east of Mt. Hood near Tygh Valley, is closed through the end of March to protect winter-weakened deer and elk.

Less than a week after the incident, ODFW put out a press release quoting a prominent member of the state’s shed hunting fraternity advising antler seekers to put off their trips until spring.

“It’s easy to think since there is not a lot of snow now that the critters are fine, but that’s not necessarily the case,” Rob Tanner of Oregon Shed Hunters said in the release. “It’s making it difficult for wildlife to get around, especially deer.”

Anybody with information on the two individuals are being asked to call OSP Senior Trooper Craig Gunderson at (541) 980-2693.

Toledo, Albany Men Sentenced For Wildlife Violations

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON STATE POLICE FISH AND WILDLIFE DIVISION

Brandon J. Yamanaka (age 30) of Toledo entered a guilty plea in the Benton County Circuit Court to one count of Taking, Angling, Hunting, or Trapping in Violation of Wildlife Law or Rule as a Class A Misdemeanor.

YAMANAKA. (OSP)

Christopher J. Martin (age 33) of Albany entered a no contest plea in Benton County Circuit Court to one count of Taking, Angling, Hunting, or Trapping in Violation of Wildlife Law or Rule as a Class A Misdemeanor. Multiple additional wildlife offenses were dismissed as part of the plea bargain.

MARTIN. (OSP)

Subject to the plea deal Yamanaka was sentenced to:

-24 months of Bench Probation
-Perform 80 hours of community service
-Forfeit all wildlife seized during investigation
-Forfeit firearm / weapon seized during investigation
-Pay $15,650 in fines, fees, and restitution
-Hunting privileges suspended for a period of 5 years

Subject to the plea deal Martin was sentenced to:

-24 months of Bench Probation
-Perform 80 hours of community service
-Forfeit all wildlife seized during investigation
-Forfeit firearm / weapon seized during investigation
-Pay $8,150 in fines, fees, and restitution
-Hunting privileges suspended for a period of 3 years

The charges stemmed from an investigation which resulted in the service of several search warrants by the Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division Mid-Valley Team. As a result of the investigation multiple trophy class black tailed deer taxidermy mounts, turkey parts, bows and a shotgun were seized. The subjects had taken animals closed season and had been involved in taking multiple animals a season without the proper or sufficient number of tags. Yamanaka had a previous wildlife offense conviction.

MOUNTED DEER SEIZED BY OREGON STATE POLICE FISH AND WILDLIFE DIVISION. (OSP)

A violation of any provision of the wildlife laws (such as the unlawful take of deer), or any rule adopted pursuant to the wildlife laws, is a Class A misdemeanor if the offense is committed with a culpable mental state in Oregon. If convicted, a person can be charged with the maximum penalty of $6250, have their hunting privileges suspended and forfeit weapons or other items used in the commission of the crime(s).

The Oregon Hunters Association offers rewards to persons, through their T.I.P. fund, for information leading to the issuance of a citation to a person(s), or an arrest made of a person(s) for illegal possession, killing, or taking of bighorn sheep, mountain goat, moose, elk, deer, antelope, bear, cougar, wolf, fur-bearers and/or upland game birds and water fowl. T.I.P. rewards can also be paid for the illegal taking, netting, snagging, and/or dynamiting of game fish, and/or shell fish, and for the destruction of habitat.

In addition rewards may be paid for information leading to the issuance of a citation to a person(s), or an arrest made of a person(s) who have illegally obtained Oregon hunting/angling license or tags. People who “work” the system and falsely apply for resident license or tags are not legally hunting or angling and are considered poachers.

Rewards:
Bighorn sheep, mountain goat, moose $1,000
Elk, deer, antelope $500
Bear, cougar, wolf $300
Habitat destruction $300
Illegally obtaining Oregon hunting or angling license or tags $200
Game fish, shell fish $100
Upland birds, waterfowl $100
Fur-bearers $100